Estate Planning for Your Loved One with Dementia
Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases and disorders that cause dementia or memory loss are becoming more common among our aging adult population. While any form of cognitive decline is devastating for everyone involved, dementia presents extraordinary concerns for the individual affected and his or her family when making healthcare decisions, drafting a will and managing other financial or legal matters.
More often than not, it is the children of the individual affected by dementia who end up making decisions on their behalf. Therefore, it’s important for loved ones and family members to comprehend the financial and legal implications of their decisions and actions.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s mental capacity for making important health-related, legal and financial decisions, be aware of the following estate planning documents.
Power of Attorney
In most situations, as long as an individual is diagnosed as being in the beginning stages of a dementia-causing illness and has minor or nonexistent symptoms, the law deems them mentally competent. If your loved one has recently received a diagnosis of a dementia-causing illness like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or has shown signs of dementia, consider asking them to enter into a durable power of attorney.
A durable power of attorney allows your loved one to assign you with the ability to make financial, legal and healthcare-related decisions on his or her behalf. This will also give you the ability to sign legal documents on his or her behalf which will be needed once dementia sets in.
If your loved one is already deemed mentally incompetent, a durable power of attorney will not be possible and instead, a legal guardianship will be necessary.
In the anticipation of the future onset of dementia, it is advisable for your loved one to draft a will if he or she has not previously done so. It is also a good idea to create a list of all assets and to locate bank accounts, insurance policies and to tie up any other financial or contractual loose ends.
If there isn’t an existing will and your loved one is clearly exhibiting signs of dementia, you may want to consider guardianship as an option. If a signed will does exist, note that any changes made by someone deemed mentally incompetent may not be considered valid in the eyes of the law. In that case, changes would require action by a guardian or someone with power of attorney.
We Can Help
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or you suspect that he or she is exhibiting signs of dementia, consult with a trusted estate planning attorney in Pittsburgh to best understand your options. We understand how challenging this time can be and are here to help. Contact Fingeret Law at 412-254-8533 or online today to learn more.